Trump did not just challenge Republican orthodoxy. He also blew up its establishment. Now, if he loses, his supporters will likely blame the Never Trumpers, now including former National Security Adviser John Bolton, for the president’s defeat and for everything a Biden administration subsequently does. With many of these officials pushed aside, new foreign-policy voices in the GOP are poised to fill the vacuum…

Although all Republicans are unified on the need to counter China’s power, Colby and Mitchell see the struggle less ideologically than many of their compatriots, and more in line with Trump’s personal view. The China challenge, Colby told me, has more to do with rising Chinese power than with the Chinese Communist Party. The risk to the American people is that China “could dominate the world’s wealthiest region and shape the global economy and global order in ways that are detrimental to the United States. The CCP makes it worse, but if China were a democracy, we would still need to worry about such a powerful country.”

For this reason, they think the United States should be wary of waging a long-term ideological competition that pits democracy against authoritarianism. “I’m in a hard-line place now,” Colby told me, “because we have neglected China for a very long time. But the goal of that hard line is to get to a place of strength where détente becomes possible. When we get to a stable equilibrium, we should be prepared to engage with China regardless of its system.” They are concerned about the clash-of-systems narrative for other reasons too. Universalism results in overextension. They worry that the democracy agenda has gotten out of control, that the U.S. invests resources in thorny challenges that are detached from the national strategy. And then on other occasions, Washington falls out with strategically important allies and partners—such as Hungary, India, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia—because the countries do not liberalize domestically.